If you’re anything like me, you might be sizing up what this year has had in store so far and thought, “This is not exactly what I had in mind.”

In some ways, 2020 is starting to look tame by comparison.

Between the continuing saga of COVID-19, the crisis in Afghanistan and Hurricane Ida’s fury, the news within the past few weeks has made even the most steadfast of cockeyed optimists carry a load of cynicism — and maybe a hint of crankiness sprinkled with a few tears.

Many of my conversations as of late have revolved around how “charged” everyone seems — exemplified recently by an individual I witnessed throw a mask at a clerk behind a counter and another break down in tears when her coffee order wasn’t right.

People are buckling under the weight of extraordinary times, and it’s a weight that many of us are not equipped for, nor were ever intended to carry. It’s in moments like these when we need to find a release for that pressure valve.

Here are five things I’ve found helpful:

1. Get on a yoga mat. My bias might be on full display here as someone who teaches yoga and refuses to go a day without at least one downward facing dog. I thought I grasped the concept of that whole “breath and movement unleashing profound inner peace” thing when I began my practice six years ago. But you don’t fully understand the intention behind yoga until you witness the effect it has on other people. There is absolutely nothing like watching someone walk into a yoga class in a cloud of frustration, then lie in his or her final meditation 60 minutes later, completely relaxed and with a smile on his or her face.

2. Get off social media. I don’t find this platform to be the space for meaningful dialogue. More frequently, I find it to be hostile, misinformed and combative. I’m there for the photos of your cat and that incredible entrée you ate last week at Pepper Sprout.

3. Throw stuff. Throwing masks at others is in no way appropriate — ever. Instead, how about heaving a giant sharp object at a wall to let go of a little anger? BustinAxe Throwing Range in Dubuque lets you do just that. For an hour — or even two — you can throw an ax at a giant bullseye. Book for up to nine people at BustinAxe.com.

4. Get outside. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the weather has been gorgeous. We’re in that wonderful (albeit short) window of time in the Midwest when the sweltering heat and humidity of summer is behind us and the bitter cold that makes us want to migrate south with the birds a few weeks away. Enjoy it. American Lady Cruises offers an annual “Colors of Fall” cruise. This year, it will take place on Thursday, Oct. 14, from Dubuque to Bellevue, Iowa. Boarding begins at 9:30 a.m., with return scheduled at 4 p.m. Shorter cruises also are planned from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10, and from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18. Check AmericanLadyCruises.com for more information.

5. Get basic — not everyone is you. Believing that everyone sees and experiences the world the same way you do — and if they don’t, they’re rotten people — is nothing but your ego talking. Perspectives always will differ, but that doesn’t suddenly make yours invalid. My entire social circle consists of people who identify as liberal, conservative and middle-of-the-road. They’re all pretty great. And they’re not as different as they’d like to believe. They all need love, food, companionship and to feel understood and accepted. And you know what? They’re all in this experience and are doing the best they can with what the world has given them.

That last one is important to remember when the weight of the world bears down.

Email Megan at megan.gloss@thmedia.com.

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